12 million reasons to change Government planning proposals

ARCO's response to the Planning for the Future White Paper
  • White Paper risks leaving older people behind, says housing-with-care sector
  • National action a step forward but no current plans for ageing population
  • Sector says Government task force needed to tackle under-provision

The Government’s planning reforms risk neglecting the future housing and care needs of older people, leaving our ageing population without sufficient provision according to ARCO, the Associated Retirement Community Operators which represents the housing-with-care sector for older people in the UK.

Responding to the Government’s White Paper “Planning for the future”, the housing-with-care sector says that national action on planning is much needed and a positive step in the right direction.

However, it is vital that the next stage of planning reform focuses on our ageing population, which is not referenced at all in the White Paper. Currently, relevant national planning policies - the Ministerial Guidance issued in 2019 - does not go far enough in recognising the different types of specialist housing for older people, meaning that councils are not required to assess the demand for each of these types of provision or to encourage development to meet this demand.

This is despite there being over 12 million older people in the UK now and the UK’s population set to age rapidly over the coming decades.

The housing-with-care sector has recently called for a task force to help tackle the barriers which are holding back provision.

Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO said:

“The current reform proposals are a radical departure from the ‘how’ planning is conducted. However, we now urgently need to turn our attention to ‘what’ the new system is going to plan for – if we are serious about Planning for the Future, this must include the housing needs of older people.

“It is time to replace patchy and inconsistent planning rules with a more joined-up and forward looking set of policies – including through a cross-government task force which develops a clear and proactive approach to housing-with-care.”


For Further Information Please Contact

Sam Dalton, Policy & External Affairs Executive, at samdalton@arcouk.org or on 07722553856


  1. About ARCO: ARCO (the Associated Retirement Community Operators) is the trade association for operators of housing-with-care developments for older people. ARCO was founded in 2012, and is now comprised of 27 private and not-for-profit operators of Retirement Communities. ARCO represents approximately 50% of the Retirement Community sector. ARCO sets high standards, and all ARCO members must adhere to the externally assessed ARCO Consumer Code. ARCO does not represent the traditional retirement housing model where there are limited services and no care is available or care homes.
  2. About Retirement Communities: Retirement Communities typically consist of individual one or two bedroom flats or houses, located in a development with similar properties. Residents have access to a range of services and facilities, which will include optional on-site care, 24-hour staffing, and dining and leisure facilities, and may also include bars, gyms and craft rooms. Retirement Communities are also sometimes referred to as housing-with-care schemes, retirement villages, extra care housing, assisted living, or close care apartments. They sit in between traditional retirement houses (which have less extensive staffing and leisure facilities), and care homes, and can be in urban or suburban locations.